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A Perfect Spy: A Novel | [John le Carré]

A Perfect Spy: A Novel

Over the course of his seemingly irreproachable life, Magnus Pym has been all things to all people: a devoted family man, a trusted colleague, a loyal friend - and the perfect spy. But in the wake of his estranged father's death, Magnus vanishes, and the British Secret Service is up in arms. Is it grief, or is the reason for his disappearance more sinister? And who is the mysterious man with the sad moustache who also seems to be looking for Magnus? In A Perfect Spy, John le Carré has crafted one of his crowning masterpieces.
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Publisher's Summary

Over the course of his seemingly irreproachable life, Magnus Pym has been all things to all people: a devoted family man, a trusted colleague, a loyal friend - and the perfect spy. But in the wake of his estranged father's death, Magnus vanishes, and the British Secret Service is up in arms. Is it grief, or is the reason for his disappearance more sinister? And who is the mysterious man with the sad moustache who also seems to be looking for Magnus?

In A Perfect Spy, John le Carré has crafted one of his crowning masterpieces, interweaving a moving and unusual coming-of-age story with a morally tangled chronicle of modern espionage.

With an Introduction by the Author

©1986 David Cornwall (P)2012 Penguin Audio

What the Critics Say

"Le Carré's best book, and one of the finest English novels of the 20th century." (Philip Pullman)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (68 )
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4.1 (60 )
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4.4 (61 )
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  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 04-13-13
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 04-13-13

    A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Remembrances of loyalties past"

    In some of le Carré's novels you feel haunted by the ghosts of Conrad, Greene, Nabokov, etc. In 'The Perfect Spy', I went back and forth about whether le Carré was building this novel to be Dickensian spy novel or a Proustian spy novel.

    I still haven't quite figured it out. All I know is that it worked; it was brilliant. It was beset by elements of Proust, Dickens, le Carré's own father, and le Carré himself. In a story about multiple fathers, why can't it be both an ode to Dickens and Proust?

    'A Perfect Spy' is a novel about deception (but what spy novel isn't about deception?), memory, love and loyalty. It is a story about the sins of fathers and the absolutions of sons. It is about a character who is on the run without ever leaving a room; a room filled with hidden cabinets, burn boxes, and years and years of secrets and conflict; a room that holds a perfect spy who is running from his past, running from his present, and running from his future.

    I've said this before, but I don't ever get tired of preaching it: le Carré is a novelist that WILL be read in 100 years and perhaps in 500 years because he is absolutely tapped into the global zeitgeist of the modern man and the modern nation-state. Le Carré has his finger on the pulse of what we NEED to believe, what we YEARN to believe. He has a story to tell and a map of our often hidden realities.

    Le Carré's has baked a madeleine that we eventually all must choke on, because we all eventually get to that point where we refuse to swallow anymore sh!t.

    25 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RAMON Gray, TN, United States 09-15-13
    RAMON Gray, TN, United States 09-15-13 Member Since 2007

    Avid Reader

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    "They Don't Come Any Better"

    A great, intricate, psychologically sophisticated story beautifully performed., The reader nailed the various European accents and English class accents. The story is very artfully told and structured.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie Jones New Orleans, LA USA 08-11-14
    Julie Jones New Orleans, LA USA 08-11-14 Member Since 2005

    Julienola

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    "The best of the best"

    This may be LeCarre's finest novel. Initially, it may strike listeners as a bit confusing, because of the shifting time sequences and the two different narrators, but the apparent confusion is sorted pretty quickly. Both writing and performance are brilliant. That the performance is 17 hours long is a wonderful bonus.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hannes cupertino, CA, United States 05-17-13
    Hannes cupertino, CA, United States 05-17-13 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "cut your losses"

    sadly i'm with the minority who find the endless back-and-forth of the past and present tiresome beyond my own endurance, the narcissistic autobiographical aspect of page after page after page, meandering about with clever phraseology leading to nowhere or perhaps at a snail's pace to a later point in the book that i will never reach. if i want this sort of literature, i'll go to ulysses. i go to le carre for expertly done spy thrillers, no more no less. i was on a roll with the other superb readings by jayston, until i ran into this clothesline.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arnold Akron, OH, USA 08-07-12
    Arnold Akron, OH, USA 08-07-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I tried to return this"
    What disappointed you about A Perfect Spy?

    It was not a story about a spy, but a story about how a kid grew up


    Has A Perfect Spy turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I am going to have to pay more attention to what I am buying


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Michael Jayston?

    I am tired of narrators from England, or with a British accent


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from A Perfect Spy?

    I stopped listening to the story. I couldn't complete the 2nd part download and never tried the third.


    Any additional comments?

    I performed the steps to return this book, yet it is in my library and I do not have my credit returned to me. It has been over a week now.

    1 of 30 people found this review helpful
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